One in 10 adults experience insomnia as a chronic condition, and about 50 percent have had trouble with it at some point in their life, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 50 percent! It’s a little bit jarring to think that so many of us have a hard time getting rest — but since you’re here reading this, we’d venture to guess that your one of those people that either have trouble falling asleep at night or are habitually wake up at 3 a.m. without being able to drift off into sweet slumber again. How to get a better night’s sleep is a question that plagues almost everyone’s mind at one time or another.
We’ve all heard the usual sleep hygiene tips like avoiding caffeine, exercising regularly and switching of electronic devices a couple hours before bed — but what happens when those supposedly tried-and-true tips don’t work?
We asked Nicole Kwan, a health writer and editor, to create a list of her best recommendations to give your body a fighting chance to fall into quality, restorative sleep and stay snoozing all night long.
Try out these Hints and see her full list here — but remember, chronic insomnia is a serious condition. If you can’t sleep for prolonged periods of time, please see your doctor.
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1. Switch Up Your Lighting
You know that too much screen time before bed is a bad thing, but do you know why? They’re powered by blue light — and according to Harvard research, blue light at night can suppress the secretion of melatonin (the hormone that tells your body to switch into sleep mode). While any kind of light is bad for melatonin production on one level or another, Harvard researchers found that blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as green light and can shift circadian rhythms by twice as much.
Your phone already has a built-in bluelight filter option, but what about your actual lights? Turns out even LED bulbs that look white give off a bluer hue. Harvard research suggests using dim red lights for night lights because they found that red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin. Swap your normal nightstand bulb for one with a warmer, red hue, like Lighting Science’s GoodNight bulb.
2. Shower Before Hitting the Sack
Showering about 90 minutes before bed not only helps wash the day away, but some research shows it actually helps make you sleepy.
“The body naturally cools down as bedtime approaches, in sync with the circadian rhythm,” Dr. Janet K. Kennedy, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert in New York told the New York Times. “Showering artificially raises the temperature again and allows for a faster cool down, which seems to hasten sleep.”
To double down on your sleepy shower, use this softening body lotion from Lush after for its calming and balancing lavender. According to a study published on the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, Lavender can cause central nervous system depression. Translation: It relaxes your nerves and makes you ready for bed.
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3. Roll on Some Essential Oils
Essential oils have been around since the dawn of time practically, but they’ve been enjoying a Renaissance of sorts for the past couple years — and for good reason. They totally work.
“A body of research shows that essential oils can provide relief for disrupted sleep and improve sleep quality in adults,” says The Sleep Doctor, A 2017 study compared the effects of aromatherapy and acupressure massage on sleep quality and overall quality of life in women. Researchers found that a blend of sleep-promoting essential oils worked more effectively to improve both sleep quality and quality of life than acupressure. The blended oil was also more effective at improving sleep than a single essential oil.”
So, in other words, blends rule. If your thoughts race when you’re trying to rest, start a new nighttime ritual with this 21 Drops Sleep Roll On. The essential oil blend includes organic sandalwood to help quiet the mind, organic palmarosa to reduce anxiousness, and organic ylang ylang to encourage peace. The ritual part comes in the application: Starting 30 minutes before bed, roll it in a circle five times to your temples, wrist, and neck and breathe. Repeat.
4. Wake Up With the “Sun”
When your phone is your alarm, your choice of tone always ends up being a little… jarring. The Philips Wake-Up Light offers a choice of five soothing nature sounds that won’t cause you to startle yourself awake.
But that’s not the most interesting part — the alarm simulates a sunrise, with light increasing gradually, which helps you wake up more naturally. The sound only chimes in when the “sun” is fully up. And remember how you’re supposed to avoid blue light at night because it squelches melatonin production? You want the opposite to happen in the morning, so exposing yourself to subtle blue light helps wake you, according to Very Well Health.
Our list writer Nicole Kwan has used the Wake-Up Light for about four years and she says it definitely makes waking up more pleasant and she’s more energized throughout the day.
5. Try a Weighted Blanket
We’ve seen them around as ways to help pets with anxiety, but turns out that weighted blankets might be just as soothing for humans.
There aren’t a lot of independent studies on weighted blankets, but researchers have found that deep pressure stimulation is calming for anxiety, and Raj Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says the blankets may help people with anxiety, depression and chronic pain sleep better, according to WebMD.
“It’s like having the best hug for a long period of time,” he says, adding the blankets may be ”a good alternative to life-long sedative hypnotic medications (sleeping pills) at night.”
Sounds like it’s worth giving a go, right? Try the Gravity Blanket, which is engineered to be about 10 percent of your body weight.
Do you have any tips for getting better sleep? Let us know in the comments!